Your trip to the Powder Highway is booked, and you’re craving an experience beyond the local ski resorts. But before committing to a multi-day adventure with a local cat or heli operation, you want to sample the goods with a day trip. Where can you turn to get a taste of the backcountry experience before diving into an extended trip? Lucky for you, the Kootenays hosts several cat and heli companies that offer single day trips for the time-pressed explorers.
Fernie Wilderness Adventures rides predominantly gladed terrain suitable for advanced intermediate to expert riders. Sign up for their ‘Last Minute Club’ to get first access to stand-by seats when available.
With over 15-m (49 ft.) of snow each winter, Great Northern Cat Skiing out of Revelstoke treats advanced and expert riders with plenty of powder and steep terrain.
For cat skiing/riding, expect to pay between $475 and $680 per day depending on the season. Most operations will get you at least 6 and up to 12 runs per day.
Skiing the bottomless powder and legendary trees of the Monashee Mountains, Eagle Pass Heliski takes small groups of advanced riders on 6-8 runs per day of epic skiing.
At Stellar Heli-Skiing in Kaslo, helicopters lift you to new heights in their 6 different zones with terrain suitable for all levels of skiers. Patti Willott, Chief Admin at Stellar describes the experience as “very different from resort skiing. We are skiing deep powder in a natural setting, no groomed runs”.
With over 222,577 hectares (500,000 acres) from old-growth cedar rainforests to wide open glacier runs, Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing takes guests on a powder-filled adventure in both the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains from their base in Revelstoke.
Single-day heli-skiing/riding trips run between $929 for low season and $2,049 for high season, with 3-5 runs per day being the average. Additional runs are usually available for an extra price.
Most operations recommend booking in advance to guarantee your trip; however, many also offer stand-by seats in the case of last-minute cancellations.
~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.
~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group this summer. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
~ Consider a slower travel pace this winter to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one or two destinations and one/two accommodation properties for your entire trip (and explore all the things to do & see nearby).
~ Guiding Services: Powder Highway’s Backcountry
~ How BIG is the Powder Highway?
~ Keefer Lake Lodge: Bringing Snowcat Skiing to a Higher Level
~ Kootenay Winter Traditions: Along the Powder Highway
~ Monashee Powder Snowcats: My Weekend in Skier’s Heaven
~ Planning your Powder Highway Trip: Local Tips
~ Powder Highway 101
Top/cover photo courtesy of Great Northern Cat Skiing.
Words by Mark Locki. Mark is a photographer and writer based in Kimberley, BC. An avid traveller throughout the Kootenays and abroad, he enjoys exploring the natural world, camera in hand, seeking out compelling stories. He’s often found deep in the backcountry, running, climbing or on skis, challenging himself to discover new scenes and viewpoints.
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